- Mental Health
Is It OCD or Am I Spoiled? Please Help Me Treat My Obsession
Is it OCD?
I like things a certain way – When I vacuum the floor I have to start at the same end and go in the same direction every time. When I cook, the same foods have to go together…chicken gets green beans and a white wine sauce, beef goes in taco salads, and steak gets sliced up to go in stir fry – the stir fry with peppers and NOT carrots only please. Otherwise I pick out all the carrots from the frozen veggie bag before I even think about cooking them. And I can eat the same meal for weeks on end without getting tired of it! My dishes all get stacked in the sink the same way and they always get washed in the same order. Don’t even get me started on the stray cup that someone reaches under my arms to plop in with the bowls. I buy the same trash bags, the same conditioner, the same toothpaste and the same toilet paper no matter what is on sale. So am I suffering from OCD or am I just spoiled? I mean these things don’t adversely impact my life…for the most part. I DO get really dry skin from washing my hands constantly and my bank account could benefit from sale items.
How my Family Deals with OCD
So how does this work out with 3 kids and a husband? Thankfully my husband just laughs at my “habits” and pokes fun at them while also understanding my need to follow through on them. The kids? Well they are coming around too. Two are just as OCD / spoiled as I am but there’s one who just doesn’t get it. And we butt heads A LOT! She is like her dad – they both just go with whatever, ignore messes, change with the wind, and laugh at everything the rest of us OCD’s do. (Wow, that would be a nice change of pace for me!)
The OCD does seem to get worse and more obsessive with hormone changes – dear me someone help my husband when I finally hit that ‘change of life’. I am going to be THE worst menopausal woman in history.
What IS OCD?
OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is an anxiety issue and not a thought issue as was once believed. The OCD person has uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and repetitive, ritualized behaviors. Many people are aware they have OCD tendencies but they are unable to resist them and break free. With OCD a person’s brain gets stuck, or focused, on a particular thought or urge. That thought or urge does not go away and only gets stronger until it has been met in the appropriate way according to the person’s thinking. Compulsive hand-washing and checking doors repeatedly are both common forms of OCD. Some people wash their hands until they’re raw and others may need to check that a door is locked anywhere from 10 to 100 times.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Obsessions
Obsessions are involuntary, uncontrollable thoughts, images, or impulses a person may think or feel over and over again. These thoughts are disturbing and distracting most of the time.
Obsessive thoughts include:
- Fear of being contaminated or contaminating others
- Fear of causing harm to yourself or others
- Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts or images
- Excessive focus on religion
- Fear of losing or not having things you need
- Order and symmetry – everything must be in its right place and be lined up just right
- Excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Compulsions
Compulsions are behaviors or rituals a person feels driven to perform again and again. Compulsions are usually performed to make obsessions go away. For example, I have horrid thoughts of being contaminated with something from a filthy home. Some might call me a germ-a-phobe. And that may be true. But my obsessive thoughts over contamination cause me such great anxiety that I clean my house top to bottom every day. I perform the exact same chores in the exact same manner every single day. My obsession is contamination and my compulsion (in an attempt to rid myself of the obsessive thoughts) is a strict daily cleaning ritual.
Compulsive behaviors include:
- Excessive double-checking locks, appliances, or switches
- Repeatedly checking in on loved ones
- Counting tapping, repeating words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety
- Ordering and arranging things just so
- Accumulating “junk” out of fear of something bad happening if you discard of it
Most people with OCD fall into one or more of the following categories
- Washers are afraid of contamination and have cleaning or hand-washing compulsions – I have both.
- Checkers repeatedly check things they associate with danger. A checker might need to make sure the stove is turned off or the door is locked over and over. I repeatedly check my curling iron to make sure it’s turned off. I have to check it at least 5 times and run my hand down its cord to touch the plug in order to know I unplugged it. Otherwise I go into panic mode and I think the house will burn down. This obsession/compulsion has gotten so bad that I don’t even use my curling iron anymore.
- Doubters and Sinners are afraid that they will be punished if everything isn’t done just so and in a perfect manner. This one does not apply to me but if you feel you have some instances or examples of this form of OCD please email me or add it to the comments below and I will add it here.
- Counters and Arrangers are obsessed with having order or keeping things symmetrical. A counter may have superstitions about a certain number. For example, I have to brush my teeth with exactly 54 strokes each time or else my teeth will all rot out of my head OR all my shirts must be hung in color order according to the rainbow or else I will have the worst luck of anyone alive.
- Hoarders compulsively hoard things because they fear something bad will happen if they throw something away. This is another one I don’t have a problem with because it would go against my “washer” tendencies.
If a loved one does have OCD there are some things you can do to help him or her such as:
- Providing a calm, supportive environment
- Don’t scold or punish the person for performing rituals or having thoughts
- Be as kind and patient as possible – focus on positive elements of the person’s life
- Don’t play along with OCD rituals for this only reinforces the behavior
- Find the humor in the situation without belittling the sufferer.Sometimes humor can help the person realize the habits and rituals are indeed silly and this lessens the strength of the anxiety attached to each thought or ritual.
Not everyone who engages in the above behaviors should be labeled as OCD.In order for the thoughts and behaviors to be classified as OCD they need to cause tremendous distress, take up a great deal of time, and disrupt a person’s life and relationships.There are several successful methods of treating OCD.Don’t making a self-diagnosis of OCD.Speak with your family doctor who can refer you to a specialist for a definite diagnosis and treatment plan.